Thursday, January 15, 2015

Tutorial Thursday - Die Cuts with Dimension

Hi, everyone! It's Kathy here today, with a tutorial on a few of my favorite techniques for adding dimension and texture to die cuts. I could go on for hours with fun ways to do this, but for the sake of your sanity and time, I'll limit myself to three! :)

The first is a tried-and-true technique of paper piecing and shadow layering, and I'm using the Flag Banner Die to demonstrate how a few extra steps can add a lot of interest to the finished cut.

Start by die cutting your flag banner three times - once in a dark shadow color (black here), once in an accent color (pink), and once in a white or cream top layer.

(If you choose to stamp letters or a design on the white/cream top layer, it's easiest to do it at this point, right after die cutting, before you start cutting it apart for layering.)

Using the perforated lines on the banner pieces as a guideline, trim the white/cream piece around the inside of each flag...

(If you want to ink or distress the edges of the white/cream piece, do it at this point.)

Then, using foam tape pieces, or small pop-dots, attach each white/cream banner piece inside the perforated edges of the pink banner...

Now, using a clear-drying liquid glue, attach the black banner behind the pink, offsetting just a bit to give the illusion of shadow.

*Note: you don't have to use liquid glue, but I prefer it because it leaves some "open time" to shift the top layers around until you get just the amount of shadow you want from the black piece.

And, you're done...a few extra steps, and a tiny amount of time, can give a whole new sense of dimension to your piece...the black shadow piece is subtle, but effective. It looks like the whole banner is "popped up," doesn't it? But it isn't...the black layer is flat against the background paper...

Another technique I like is using metallic rubs and sprays to give cardstock die cuts the look of distressed metal.

I'm using the Street Lamp Die to demonstrate how I use metallic rubs for this look, and then the Diamond Wire Die to show how metallic sprays can give you a totally different texture.

In my sample, I'm using Viva Inka Gold, "old gold" metallic rub. There are other products like this that work just as well, like Rub N Buff, etc. I just chose this one because it was handy to my desk at the time. :)

I should also note that I'm using 110 lb/297 g/m cardstock for these die cuts. It's not a prerequisite...I just find it easier to fingerpaint and spray on sturdier cardstock.

Using your fingertip covered with a small amount of metallic rub, *lightly* paint over scattered areas on your die cut lamp. Think about how you see metal lamp posts on the street...the whole post isn't shiny and usually see parts of the metal reflecting the shine, and others with a flat finish...that's the look I'm trying to achieve. Here's how the die cut looks after a light, random rub...

My next step was to use small pieces of foam tape to adhere the other black die cut lamp piece behind the painted one, to give extra dimension to the final product...

You can get a different kind of distressed metal look with the use of liquid metallic mists. In my sample, I'm using the Diamond Wire Die, and liquid metallic mists in dark gold and copper...

Lay the die cut pieces on your craft mat or covered worksurface, and spray away...don't worry about those puddles...they'll dry with a different intensity, and make the piece look more realistic...

I don't have a lot of patience, so I usually hit the sprayed pieces with my heat gun to move things along more quickly. :)  When dry, you'll have a piece that looks like wire that's been out in the elements for a while and has aged with a cool patina...

My final example uses the Wrought Iron Fence Die to illustrate a fun way to get an aged, shabby look to the fencing (shadow layering is also used on this piece).  Start by die cutting your fence in white (or whatever color you'd like your fence to be) and once in a darker shadow color...

No, we're not going to use ALL these mediums...LOL...I just wanted to give you an idea of how many different types of texture mediums there are out there to do this technique (heavy gesso will also work, but I forgot to lay that out for this photo and didn't realize that until I was writing up this post)...

In this case, I used the one of the crackle pastes for my fence. Lay the die cut down on your craft mat or covered worksurface, and lather away with a palette knife, or even your fingers...have fun....get messy!

A tip if you're using crackle mediums: If you're impatient like me and like to speed the drying time along with your heat gun, know that you might not get as much crackling in the finished piece as you would if you let the crackle medium air-dry. It's not a big deal on pieces like this fence that have small surface areas, but on larger pieces, you might find the amount of crackle more important to your piece.

After the piece was dry, I rubbed on some Distress Ink (in this case, Pumice Stone) to accentuate the texture created, and give the fence an old, weathered look...

The final step was to adhere the black shadow piece using small spots of liquid glue, and I have a shabby fence that you'll see on a card next month.  :)

I hope you've gotten some fun inspiration today...go forth and get messy and have fun with your die cuts, no matter what your style is!


  1. WOW!!! Great tutorial today! Thank you! I can't wait to try all these fun techniques! :o)

  2. Could you please tell me the brand and colors of the liquid metallic mists you used on the diamond wire die? Thanks so much!

    1. Thanks, Katie! There are many different brands of sprays that will work for this, but my biggest collection is of Lindy's Stamp Gang sprays, so those are the ones I find myself using the most. In this example, I used two of the Starburst Sprays - Bayou Boogie Gold and Cowabunga Copper. :)

  3. Oh these are great ideas, thanks for sharing!

  4. That's amazing I used this technique yesterday [sort of ] when I wanted a diecut to look like chipboard on my canvas. I didnt use pop dots instead placing one diecut on top of the other until I got the thickness required. great tutorial Kathy xx

    1. A big "YES!" to your technique also, Sherryn! Stacking your diecuts one directly on top of the other(s) is not only a wonderful dimension technique, it's also a great way to give your diecuts extra strength and durability, especially if you're using them on top of altered boxes, canvases for display, etc. Thank you for adding that!

  5. Kathy love these,great ideas and must invest in some products to get messy too.thanks,hugs Lou.xx

  6. oh wow ! loooove all the ideas ! great DIY post, thank you so much Kathy for shaing xx